Profit poses many interesting questions, even before you watch the series. It was applauded by critics and failed when broadcast, so who got it wrong? The critics, well they do it a lot; the network for dumping it, its scheduling or lack of advertising, or perhaps it was the audience?
After watching the entire series on DVD, including a few audio commentaries with the writers\creators and the star I’m convinced. This time the critics were spot on.
Profit is a series that was most definitely ahead of its time, and if you know anything about this series you’ll have heard that quote time and time again, but it’s perfectly apt and very true.
The writers and creators looked to the corporate world and brought a complete sociopath into it, then layered style galore over the top, and managed to keep the costs down and still produce some excellent drama which, although slightly dated in looks, could compete well with modern programming with its dark and edgy feel. Indeed it would be interesting to see a new series of Profit made with today’s production values and budget.
The series opens strongly in the first few episodes, the dating is apparent more in the quality of picture than anything else although some hairstyles do give away the years quite effectively as well as the phones they use, other than that you’d be forgiven for mistaking the release date.
There’s a great sense of direction early on in the series and a real sense of Profit controlling and just how truly amoral he really is. The character is crafted so well and the events of each episode carefully orchestrated to show his slight and careful manipulation of other characters in order to manoeuvre them to his needs and his ultimate goal.
Unfortunately the careful crafting of the episode and the power of the character of Profit seems to dull towards the end of the series. His involvement in events becomes more direct, more obvious, much less clever and much less machiavellist. He actually feels much more like a henchman running to keep up with events around him than the opening sociopath.
That said, the first half of the series really does keep the focus on his power and manipulation, and to great effect. The whole premise of the show is superb, concentrating on the truly driven character at the centre, a character with no morals at all.
The episodes are multi-layered and complex, weaving multiple threads of the storyline together building them to a strong and very satisfying conclusion. They are dark and edgy yet it’s not all serious and there is a far bit of comic value in the series ranging from the darkly comic to the odd moment of silliness. Neither overpowers the main feel of the movie though and these moments are well woven into the series.
One of the main devices used throughout the series is the voiceover of Profit, this is used to open and close each episode as well as providing insight throughout and some further exposition. Surprisingly this works really well as it does make you feel as though Profit is leading you through this journey as he does so many characters in the series. It’s not so much used to say “Here’s what’s happening” but more “Here’s what I’m making happen” or “Here’s what I’m going to make happen”, it takes you right into his world from the opening moment.
Adrian Pasdar is superb as Profit, as is Keith Szarabajka who plays the head of the Gracen & Gracen company, Jack Gwaltney who plays his brother and the PA of Profit Lisa Darr. All provide really strong and believable performances. There are some really strong performances from secondary characters throughout the series.
For me the episode Healing was perhaps the best, and shows some of the strongest writing. The two man team of David Greenwalt and John McNamara have done a wonderful job of developing this character and threading together the episodes, as well as the threads within each episode.
Presented: Dolby Digital 2.0
The audio was clear and a very good soundtrack carried through the series. There was no real need for anything over Digital Stereo as there aren’t any moments of loud action or explosions, it’s all dialogue and manipulation. The contrast of levels between shouts and whispers were good so that no volume adjustments were required during the series.
You can tell from the film style that this is from the nineties, it lacks the crispness of today’s television picture, yet that’s not a distraction. The picture does look really good, even on the futuristic computer animation which now doesn’t seem so dated as you would expect. The picture is good and clear with great colours and lighting particularly when visiting Profit’s own private home. There’s not an abundance of camera work and handheld here, but there are some excellently filmed scenes and framed moments, with great use of crane and dolly shots.
Presented: Three discs, seven episodes in total including the two hour pilot, four never before released episodes, Featurette “Greed Kills” with interviews and discussion from the creator and stars, Audio Commentaries on some episodes with Adrian Pasdar, David Greenwalt and John McNamara and a behind the scenes booklet.
The Audio Commentaries are interesting and entertaining, but perhaps the strongest and most revealing is that of the Pilot episode where the creators and main star give away most of the information you’ll hear later on.
There’s a lot of insightful discussion into the creation and development of the show and of the Profit character, as well as the story behind the sell of the series. It really does sound as though the show was developed around the character, with the knowledge that it was not going to go on forever.
The discussions between the three commentators give us an impression of how much the actor was involved, how deep the character development and understanding of the entire premise and series was, and how the relationships between the characters and the people on set developed and grew.
There’s not many commentaries I can say this about, but this one really gets you excited about the show, the filming, the acting, everything. Their passion for the character and the series really does get under your skin and you’re with them all the way to the new series that was never made, where they discuss the possibility of the arena of politics for Profit.
All this sounds great for the Pilot, and the ideas and passion extend into the other commentaries, all except the final episode which is surprisingly disappointing after the bar being raised so high on the first. There’s a lot of watching the show and in jokes and little incisive look into the final episode filming, what was going to happen, and what could have been.
Testicular speaking, Fox really dropped the ball on this one.
That’s a wonderful quote by Pasdar, and does set the tone of the commentators feelings towards Fox.
The featurette takes off where the commentaries left and builds more on the relationships of the characters and crew, as well as delving further into the darkness of Profit the series and the character.
Profit is clever, sharp and superbly directed. It’s a very clever and complex tale which when watched now, really does show that it heralded the dark and edgy television which we are now craving more and more of today. Who would have thought that watching someone this evil would be so enjoyable?
The DVD set is a great way to experience the series and the commentaries are the added bonus here, some really insightful discussions, and at times very entertaining in themselves.